Focus on Food Justice - Seed Library of Los Angeles
The motto of the Seed Library of Los Angeles is: In Seeds We Trust
I joined the Seed Library of Los Angeles as a member in late fall of last year after having attended a couple of virtual workshops on seed-saving and learning more about the organization. The first seeds I ordered from their cool weather catalog were interesting varieties that as a fairly new gardener I had not yet heard of - Red Ursa Kale, Ruby Gem Romaine Lettuce, Chinese Pink Celery, and Beni Houshi Mizuna!
Founded in Venice, CA in 2013 by David King, the Seed Library of Los Angeles has two branches, the Venice Seed Library on the westside which is based at the Learning Garden of Venice High School, and SLOLA Altadena on the eastside. Master Gardener and Altadena Seed Library Coordinator, Jessica Yarger was instrumental in starting the Seed Library chapter in Altadena, which works in partnership with the Altadena Public Library.
100% volunteer run, the mission of SLOLA is to encourage people to grow food, learn to save seeds, and increase diversity in the local seed stores. The act of saving and replanting seeds year after year helps develop varieties that are acclimated to the specific microclimates within the Los Angeles Basin. In any given region, it takes 7 growing seasons for seeds to acclimate to the local weather conditions. The variety of seeds provided by SLOLA are open-pollinated, organic, and non-GMO. Open-pollinated seeds are “true to type” meaning they produce the same plant as the parent.
SLOLA as a whole has roughly 1500 members; SLOLA Altadena has about 200 members. Membership is a one time donation fee of $10 which provides access to SLOLA’s PDF catalogs of open-pollinated seeds to order from, divided into warm season and cool season, that cater to our two growing seasons in Southern California. SLOLA uses membership fees, along with grants and other donations, to cover the cost of seeds, seed envelopes, and other organizational expenses.
Cool-weather seeds are available generally from August through March, and warm-weather seeds from February through August. As a member, you can check out up to four different varieties of seed each month! Members are not expected to return seeds to the library in their first, or even second year of membership, but the hope is that seeds will eventually be returned by members after planting the seeds that were borrowed and harvesting the next generation of seeds from the plants at the end of the growing season.
Along with actively building a seed collection and repository, SLOLA’s mission includes educating members and the general public about the practice of seed-saving and creating a local community of seed-saving gardeners. SLOLA provides “how to” online videos, speakers, lessons in seed-saving and gardening tips throughout the year which are open to all gardeners, no matter the skill level. Prior to the pandemic, SLOLA Altadena held monthly meetings every first Saturday of the month- since December 2017- at the Altadena Main Library but now all events take place virtually about once a month!
If you would like to volunteer with SLOLA or become a lifetime member with a one-time $10 donation, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Check out SLOLA’s Instagram pages: